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Our History

We have always been a community of doers. At the time we opened our doors in 1892 as the Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute, few of the state's teachers received any formal training in the “norms” of teaching. There was a need, and we filled it. School founders made teacher training their mission in Michigan’s second normal school. 

Thirty-one students attended classes in second-floor rooms over an office on the corner of Main and Michigan streets in downtown Mount Pleasant. Within the first two years, land was acquired, and a $10,000 Normal School Building was constructed where Warriner Hall now stands. Here are some fun facts about what we've been doing since then:

  • In 1895, the Michigan State Board of Education assumed control of the school, renaming it Central Michigan Normal School. By 1918, our campus consisted of 25 acres with five buildings, one of which — Grawn Hall — is still in use, though substantially remodeled.
  • On June 1, 1959, with 40 buildings now standing on our 235-acre campus and an enrollment of 4,500 students, Central was renamed Central Michigan University. The designation reflected growth in the complexity of the school's academic offerings as well as its physical growth in the post-war period.
  • Enrollment tripled over the next 10 years, and in 1971, we saw a new need and brought our programs to students who couldn’t come to campus.
  • Today, we have more than 75 fully online programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels and additional programs. All of them are career-focused and prepare our graduates for real-world success.

And we’re still growing, still doing, still adding new programs and facilities to meet the needs of our graduates and our community.

In response to the need for doctors to practice in rural areas, we opened our own medical school in 2010. Graduates practice in underserved areas where they’re needed most. Our new Biosciences Building followed in 2017 to meet the fast-growing needs of students and researchers in the biosciences field.

Even though so much has changed over the last two centuries, our values today do not stray from those inscribed upon our seal in 1892: Sapientia, Virtus, Amicitia — wisdom, virtue and friendship.

For more CMU history, stop by the Clarke Historical Library inside the Park Library for interesting artifacts and exhibits or visit the website.